onymous, the shadowy online ‘hacktivist’ group that is rapidly gaining worldwide fame uploaded a video to YouTube on the 18th of March entitled “Message from Anonymous: To the South African people”, calling on the people to rise up and take back their country from corrupt and inept rulers.
Jeremy Daniel was the editor of www.memeburn.com, and a firm believer in the transformative power of mobile technology for emerging markets. Jeremy has written across various media... More
The message, which had been viewed 800 times at the time of writing, begins with some grainy footage of wind sweeping over Table Mountain, evoking the famous Winds of Change speech by Harold Macmillan which foreshadowed the end of the colonial era. The video then cuts to a head shot of a smiling mask and a female computerized voice begins with the words “to the people of South Africa, Anonymous would like to address you on the state of your society”.
The message goes on to detail how the people have been robbed of the wealth of the country, and how companies like Anglo American and the Oppenheimer family have gotten rich at the expense of the masses. This is followed by a list of South Africa’s social problems, from drugs and murder to domestic violence and organised gangs “while the police are rendered impotent by the very laws that govern South Africa”.
How long will we allow this to go on, asks the voice of Anonymous, before exhorting the people to “stand up and show the world that enough is enough”. The final part of the message is a warning to the government that the people will stand it no longer, and drives home the message “expect us”.
The tone of the message shifts from speaking in the third person in the first half of the message, to something more inclusive at the end. “We the people are taking our country back”, “Enough of selling our resources to the West” says the voice, and the switch to first person plural indicates that the message originates in South Africa from a homegrown branch of Anonymous.
It’s been a watershed few months for Anonymous. From highly-publicised attacks against the enemies of WikiLeaks to strategic DDOS attacks on Middle Eastern dictatorships and a strategic humiliation of online security firm HBGary, the “hacktivist” group has gone from strength to strength. Just last week, it declared that it would be taking on the might of the ‘global banking cartel‘ in what would be its most ambitious target to date.
This particular message from Anonymous to South Africa is short on details, and offers no solution to the multitude of problems which, to be frank, even the government themselves are aware of. There are no targets, timelines or direct threats which are all hallmarks of Anonymous modus operandi thus far.
The message does seem to be closely associated with a Facebook group called “Taking Back South Africa! 2011“, a community organisation with 300 followers that seems to be advocating a radical overthrow of the political system in South Africa. It even carries the group’s logo at the end.
When approached by Memeburn about its plans for the future, the organisation wrote “Our plan is first of all to create more awareness of this movement and increase online numbers which will allow us to get more material across. We plan to create more videos and written material which we will release online. OUr strategy is to focus on 3 core fundamental problems which all South Africans suffer from and can agree on: Poverty, Crime and Government Corruption.”
One of the things which the video does do is point to the fact that, in a leaderless movement such as this, anyone can step forward and claim to speak on behalf of the collective. Is this message really from Anonymous, or is it simply the work of some South African activists who are seeking to shake up the South African political scene with some bold pronouncements? We’ll be watching to see if this develops any further.